Composting human waste is a healthy way to reduce disease and feed the soil

| August 5, 2019

Download this story

Like this week’s Farmer story from Uganda, our Script of the week focuses on finding beneficial uses for human waste.

Food safety and food security are two major issues that contribute to poverty in Africa. In rural African areas, and even in urban areas, people frequently do not have access to drinkable water nor to sanitation infrastructure. It is obvious that this affects their food habits. This is a problem in slums, where people relieve themselves in open areas or in inappropriate places, due to the absence of toilets. However, improving environmental conditions could significantly decrease exposure to diseases and make food practices healthier.

In Ouagadougou’s prison, a solution was found through the ECOSAN-UE project (ecological sanitation project). This project was about using and valuing treated human excrement as fertilizer in farming and market garden production, in order to improve farm production quality and enhance inmates’ diets.

Please note that the results achieved in this script—reducing odours, reducing the spread of disease, and reducing the cost of purchased fertilizer—were dependent on the special composting toilets used by the prison. Farmers and other people should not expect to produce high quality compost simply by storing human excrement in a steel tank and spreading it on the land. It should also be noted that during proper composting, most disease-causing organisms are destroyed.

Before broadcasting or adapting this script for your own audience, please read the information sources cited at the end of the script and do your own local research to see if human waste is composted in your broadcast area, and what kinds of composting equipment are used.

This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.